Vaughn Meader

Vaughn Meader
Full name
Abbott Vaughn Meader

Abbott Vaughn Meader (March 20, 1936 – October 29, 2004), known professionally as Vaughn Meader, was an American comedian, impersonator, musician, and film actor. Meader began his career as a musician but later found fame in the early 1960s after the release of the 1962 comedy record The First Family. The album spoofed President John F. Kennedy, and went on to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1963. At the peak of his popularity, he performed his Kennedy impersonation on variety shows and in nightclubs around the country and was profiled in several magazines. Meader's career came to an abrupt end after President Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963. He attempted to take his career in another direction by performing non-Kennedy related comedy but had little success as he was typecasted. He eventually returned to playing music in his native Maine where he also managed a pub. Meader died in October 2004. Meader was born in Waterville, Maine during one of the worst floods ever to hit New England (he often said he was born on "the night the West Bridge washed out"). He was the only child of Charles Vaughn Meader, a millworker, and Mary Ellen Abbott. After his father broke his neck and drowned in a diving accident when Meader was only eighteen months old, his mother moved to Boston to work as a cocktail waitress, leaving Meader behind with relatives. A sometimes unruly and troubled child, Meader was sent to live with his mother in Boston at the age of five but she had become alcohol dependent and placed him in a children's home. After shuttling among several schools in Massachusetts and Maine, Meader eventually graduated from Brookline High School in 1953. He enlisted in the United States Army, and while stationed in Mannheim, West Germany, as a laboratory technician formed a country music band (the Rhine Rangers) with fellow soldiers, later adding impressions of popular singers to his repertoire. Meader married the German-born Vera Heller in 1955. Meader began his career in entertainment as a singer and piano player. Upon his return from Germany, he began a stand-up comedy act in New York City, where he discovered his skill at impersonating Kennedy. With his New England accent naturally close to Kennedy's familiar (and often parodied) Harvard accent, he needed to adjust his voice only slightly to sound almost exactly like the President. Meader also mastered the facial expressions that allowed him to bear a passable resemblance to Kennedy.